7. The Regret: We should've sprung for a quiet model
Our dishwasher is so noisy you have to leave the kitchen when it's on! —Lily and Bobby Schwab, Plano, Texas

Better Bet: Silence is golden
"Quiet models may cost more, but at least you'll get to spend more time in your new kitchen," observes designer Dana Jones. Ten years ago, the aver­age dishwasher clocked in at 65 decibels or higher. Today, high-end models are comparative whis­per­ers at 45 to 49 decibels. According to Marv Mealman of Whirlpool/ KitchenAid dishwasher technology, most machines that operate at levels below 55 decibels are unlikely to interfere with normal conver­sation. Shop around and check the consumer testing ratings, paying close attention to features like sound-deadening insulation and hidden vents that seal in sound during the wash cycle. A dishwasher with a ­decibel rating of 48 would retail for around $900, while a 59-decibel model sells for about $500. The extra money is well spent on a little peace and quiet.

8. The Regret: We forgot...
We let our electrical con­tractor convince us that we needed two light panels with three ­switches each in our 20-by-12-foot kitchen: It's such overkill, and still there are no undercabinet lights, which would really improve the ambience. —Allegra and Andrew Gulino, Falls Church, Virginia

Next time I'll carve out a small kitchen office, since that is where so many of the little things that matter so much seem to happen: bill paying, homework, birthday-card writing, phone calls to friends.... —Maria Zelin, Fairfield, Connecticut

Our kitchen doesn't have a sense of community: I'd add an island or peninsula where family and friends can congregate while I cook. —Donna Cotennec, Philipstown, New York

We wish we had put in more pullout shelving. Our cabinets are very deep, which gives us a lot of storage space, but creates major problems every time you try to retrieve something from the back. You can't reach into the cabinets without having the items in front fall out on the floor. —Jim Blasi and Michael Tozzoli, Westwood, New Jersey

Better Bet: Get professional advice
You don't need to hire someone to select every drawer pull for you, but sometimes it's wise to consult with an architect, kitchen designer, or lighting expert to help you do some basic, schematic design work or to help you brainstorm material selection. Designing a kitchen isn't your day job, so you're bound to make mistakes based on inexperience. The pros, on the other hand, are immersed in knowledge about the best materials, techniques, and gadgets that will make the most of your space. In the long run, an hour or two in consultation with an expert could save you lots of time and energy—and quite possibly money, too!

The most important thing to remember is that everybody screws up once in a while. "Houses evolve, so it's okay to go back and fix things you don't like or to keep updating over time," says Minneapolis designer David Heide. "Your home needs to work for you, and you don't want to spend 20 years being annoyed by something, especially if it's relatively easy and inexpensive to fix."
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